Fixed Departure : July 11th – July 21st 2019
See Itinerary below for details
Do you want to be part of the first ever group to traverse Armenia’s volcanic Geghama Mountains?
Fancy a dose of proper wilderness walking in the borderlands of Europe and Asia – whilst also donating to a good cause?
This exhilarating trek along a newly-mapped section of the Trans-Caucasian Trail will take you across Armenia’s fantastically beautiful, yet little-visited Geghama Range, an imposing chain of extinct volcanoes that bisects the country from north to south. The most remote, uninhabited part of the Lesser Caucasus Mountains, this is a wild region of rolling steppe, snow-streaked peaks, nomad camps and wheeling eagles.
You’ll walk across flower-strewn ridges, stand on the craters of old volcanoes, swim in ice-cold mountain lakes, drink toasts around the fire with Yezidi nomads, sleep in an ancient Caravanserai, camp under epic starlit skies, visit ancient monasteries and feast on delicious Armenian food and wine.
Only four people have made this full traverse of the Geghama Range – among them the Trans-Caucasian Trail founder Tom Allen, writer and adventurer Leon McCarron, and our guide, Val Ismaili. Val is also the first person to have walked the entire 1000-mile length of the Trans-Caucasian Trail across Georgia and Armenia.
This will be the first ever group crossing of the range, and we’re pretty darn excited about it.
||Zvartnots International Airport, Yerevan
||Please ensure you arrive in good time for our scheduled departure from Yerevan
- Airport transfers in Armenia
- All food and accommodation.
- Drinking water.
- Expert Guide Val Ismaili, plus a superb, English-speaking local guide who intimately knows the route and the people who live along it.
- A Water 2 Go water filtration bottle, in order to reduce plastic waste
- Professional route planning and logistics, backed by risk assessments, emergency procedures, satellite communications (where necessary) and medical support. We don’t take risks lightly and we plan for all eventualities, believing it is better to have prepared and not require a procedure than not to plan at all.
- International Flights to/from Yerevan.
- Your Armenian visa if required (USA, UK/EU citizens do not require a tourist visa. Other nationalities may. See Visa Information for details.).
- Extras such as souvenirs and alcohol.
- Your personal travel insurance
In the words of Tom Allen, co-founder of the Trans-Caucasian Trail. “The sheer expansiveness of this region conjures memories of the Patagonian and Mongolian steppes: it’s incredible that this tiny nation in the South Caucasus, just a quick hop away from Europe, can serve up such wildernesses.”
We are running this trip in collaboration with our good friends at the Trans-Caucasian Trail, and a healthy slice of the profits will be going to the Trail – helping them continue their valuable work in building this pioneering long-distance walking route.
The wonderful images shown are gratefully credited to Tom Allen and Leon McCarron
Where will we be staying? On this expedition you’ll be staying at a variety of different places, ranging from a very nice hotel in Yerevan’s centre to homestays in the mountains. You’ll also spend four nights camping, including one night with Yezidi nomads and one night in a 700-year old Silk Road caravanserai.
Will we have to share rooms? Yes, sometimes. A number of the guesthouses we’re staying at are small and family-run and there simply isn’t enough space for everyone to have their own room – but this is all part of the adventure! Where possible though, you will have your own room. And of course, you’ll also have your own tent – unless you choose to share with a friend or partner.
I’m a solo traveller – is this for me?
Yes. More than 70% of our expedition clients travel alone as part of our group.
Do you charge single supplements – I can’t see them in your information?
We don’t believe that solo travellers should be penalised for extra accommodation charges so no, there is no single supplement on this trip.
What’s included in the price?
All your food and accommodation, some alcohol with meals, two guides, a support vehicle, airport transfers. The only things not included are your flights, personal travel insurance and spending money for personal things like souvenirs.
What kit do I need to bring?
Once you’ve signed up to this trip we will provide you with a detailed information pack. This will detail all and any particular equipment you’ll need to pack.
Will I have to carry my own camping gear?
Yes, you will have to carry all your own camping equipment for the first three days of the trek where the terrain does not allow for a support vehicle. From Day 5 onwards, when we camp with the Yezidi’s, we will be met each evening by our support vehicle, so you’ll just need to carry your day pack with water, packed lunch and anything else essential you need for the day. We will explain this in more detail in your Welcome Pack.
Will I have to put up my own tent?
Yes you will!
How much are the flights? Return flights to Yerevan from London are typically around £400. These flights all include stopovers in Moscow or Istanbul of varying lengths. The recommended outgoing flight from London leaves late at night on July 10th, meaning you arrive in time for lunch on the 11th and have plenty of time to rest before the adventure begins. Again, we will advise you more on this after you have signed up.
How fit do I need to be? This is an expedition-level adventure and you need to be a fit, fairly experienced hiker. You’ll be embarking on self-supported trekking days in remote mountains, at elevation, whilst carrying camping equipment and food. You will be led by Val Ismaili, a qualified Mountain Leader, and at times have vehicle support, but this trip is physically challenging and requires you to have some trekking and backpacking experience. Pop us an email if you have any concerns before booking.
What will the food be like? Delicious. We’ll have the chance to eat authentic Armenian cuisine at some of the best restaurants in the country as well as traditional homemade food at guesthouses, a homestay and Yezidi camps. There tends to be a very heavy consumption of meat and dairy, so let us know if you have specific dietary requirements and we’ll plan accordingly. Our self-supported campfire nights will be fuelled by dehydrated Firepot camp meals.
Do we need our own camping equipment? Yes. You’ll need to bring along suitable camping gear for the terrain we’ll be trekking through. In short, this means a sleeping mat, a warm sleeping bag and a tent in addition to your typical trekking gear. We’ll provide the stoves and gas though. On booking the trip, you’ll receive an extensive packing list detailing exactly what you’ll need.
What will the weather be like? We’ll be trekking through the most prominent mountain range in the country. Electrical storms are common in the evenings, but are contrasted by normally clear, and warm (around 20 degrees) days and clear, colder nights.
Is it a guaranteed departure? We need a minimum of five people to make this a guaranteed departure, but we hope this won’t be too difficult!
Who’s leading the trip? The trip will be led by Val Ismaili as well as a local English-speaking guide (who is also the vice President of the Transcaucasian Trail in Armenia). Val first travelled to the Caucasus in the summer of 2017, and spent two months trekking alone through the remote mountains of Armenia and Georgia to complete the first thru-hike of the 1000-mile Transcaucasian Trail. Since then, Val has spent six months scouting, designing and building new hiking trails across the Armenian Highlands, meaning he’s uniquely well positioned to take us deep into both the Geghama mountains and Armenian culture. Val is a qualified Mountain Leader, remote First Aid trained and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. You you can hear him give a personal account of his expedition through the Caucasus at the link below.
Do you perform proper risk management on your expeditions?
Yes. We are members of TRIP – the Travel Risk and Incident Prevention Group – and perform detailed country risk assessments prior to departure, in line with the ISO 31000 international standard for risk assessment. We also maintain close contact with the relevant Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice for countries we plan to visit, in addition to making use of the Australian Smart Traveller assessment tool, and the US State Department’s OSAC service. Beyond this, we have a full set of risk management and disaster contingency plans for each expedition and are expedition first aid trained by Crux Medical. For final back up we also use the services of Remote Medical Support that allows us to have a UK expedition doctor on the end of a telephone line wherever we may be. And we always carry a satellite phone if there is any danger of being out of signal in the places we travel through. We really don’t mess around when it comes to safety.
Is this for me?
Although this is an extremely enlivening way to spend ten days of your life, it’s also potentially dangerous.
Walking across rough terrain can be dangerous in your own back yard, so being fit enough to walk an average of twelve miles per day across mountains is a prerequisite of this trip.
Don’t even consider signing up for this adventure if you aren’t fully aware of the risks you are taking.
This is a beautiful, enchanting and ancient place to travel through but in many of the areas we will pass through, tourism is unheard of. This of course, is what draws us – and hopefully you – to travel there in this experiential way. Remember, we are the very first people to run a group tour here.
There’ll be very little Wi-Fi or mobile reception for most of the hike. Shared rooms, camping, local hospitality and simple amenities will be the norm, so if your idea of heaven is starting each day with a full English breakfast and having a swimming pool and a private suite, then we’d suggest this isn’t for you!